Monday, 11 December, 2017

Argentina ends rescue mission for crew of missing submarine

ARA San Juan: Argentina calls off rescue mission for missing submarine crew but continues search for vessel Rescue mission for Argentine submarine crew ends, search for sub continues
Charlie Simmons | 01 December, 2017, 06:49

Argentina's navy said Thursday that it is no longer looking for survivors among the 44 sailors aboard a submarine missing for 15 days, though a multinational operation will continue looking for the vessel.

The ARA San Juan had a seven-day supply of air when it reported its last position on November 15.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the rescue mission had "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".

"It has not been possible to locate the submarine, and there will be no rescue of people", he added.

The Argentine navy described an "anomalous, short, violent", explosion near where the submarine went missing, prompting many to fear the crew had died.

Relatives of the crew broke down as the heard news of the navy discontinuing rescue operations for the 44 crew members.

"I don't understand this arbitrary and unfair decision", he added.

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And the navy has come under fire for its handling of the tragedy, as it failed to mention the problem reported by the vessel for several days after its disappearance.

Eight days after the sub vanished, the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation said that they detected a noise a few hours after the sub's last contact.

The navy has downplayed a report by the newspaper La Nacion that there were irregularities in a battery purchase when the submarine, which started operating in 1985, was repaired between 2008 and 2014. "We don't know what happened and it's impossible to tell the truth from fabrication".

The formal end to the rescue effort means that vessels carrying life-saving devices will leave the search area, while additional equipment for search missions at great depths will be deployed.

The crew only had oxygen reserves to last for about one week.

Among the ARA San Juan's crew was Argentina's first female navy submariner: Eliana Krawczyk, 35.

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